Thursday, 5 March 2015

Questions (255)

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

255. Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to review the set-income threshold for access to social housing support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9719/15]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 introduced a new standard procedure for assessing applicants for social housing in every housing authority. The aim of the new system is to move closer to a transparent, consistent and fairer approach to eligibility for social housing. The Regulations include maximum net income limits for each housing authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of income needed to provide for a household’s basic need plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. The limits also reflect a blanket increase of €5,000 introduced by this Government prior to the new system coming into operation, in order to broaden the base from which social housing tenants are drawn and thereby promote sustainable communities.

Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all housing authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, PRSI and the universal social charge. Most payments received from the Department of Social Protection are assessable. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and housing authorities also have discretion to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off.

I am satisfied that the current income limits generally provide for a fair and equitable system of identifying those households unable to provide accommodation from their own resources. However, the limits will be considered in the context of the review of social housing assessment procedures currently being undertaken by my Department, as part of the broader social housing reform agenda outlined in the Social Housing Strategy 2020.